Bivolino Brings Tradition and Technology Together
The Bivolino website shirt configurator
2004-07-16: Bivolino has combined fifty years of experience in shirtmaking with cutting-edge design technology to offer custom tailored mens shirts through their Bivolino.com website.
The Bivolino company is part of the privately held Byvoet group, which originally began making shirts in Belgium in 1954. From an early stage, the company was an innovator in shirtmaking. Indeed, Bivolino was one of the first shirts to be designed with a computer controlled size system. Overall, the Byvoet group produces more than 5,000,000 shirts annually. The name Bivolino is an artistic combination of the family name Bijvoet, and linen, a superb natural fabric. More recently, with the development of the online selling system, Bivolino evolved to a technology brand name: Bijvoet Online - Biv"ol"ino (ol = on line).
Today, Bivolino is a dedicated custom shirt maker, with 100% of its products made to the requirements of individual customers. The main driving force behind the company is co-founder Carine Moitier, who is also the Chief Operations Officer.
The range of custom made shirts available from Bivolino is impressive. The styles are divided into three broad categories, Formal, Casual and Ceremonial (dress shirts). Across the entire range, the features which can be customised include a wide choice of collar styling, various cuff designs and the ability to choose a number of pocket styles. On some shirts, even the tail design can be chosen, with a straight, round or split version. The monogram is offered in different colours & fonts and can be placed at various locations on the shirt.
Formal Classic in Opion1 fabric
Within the Formal style, there are 'Classic', 'Italy' and 'Trendy' versions. The Formal Classic is aimed at those looking for a business shirt. For those with an interest in Italian styling, the Formal Italy uses exclusive jacquard fabrics, and has a slimmer fit. Customers can choose various collars with multiple buttons, or with a large opening, and may even choose double collars like the double Windsor or the double Roma. The Formal Trendy is for the 'trendsetter' or 'fashion addict'.
Formal Italy in striped herringbone two-fold jacquard fabric
For those looking for a more relaxed look, the Casual range might be of interest, for example the Casual Classic. On this shirt, the cut gives more space than the Formal Classic type. The Casual 'College Student' style is available in a number of unique materials, such as crushed popeline, shinny viscose and rayon as well as quadrille and striped corduroy.
Casual Classic in retro3 fabric
If the personalisation options available on these styles are not enough, the customer can go a step further with the Casual Patchwork shirt. This collection is somewhat unique because of the possibility to contrast pieces of the shirt, from the cuffs, sleeves to 4 separate collar pieces, even the little loop on the back. You can use up to 3 fabrics on 1 shirt!
Casual Patchwork in Talon2 fabric with contrasting inside collar band in Cinto 3.
The Ceremony dress shirt is the one to have when the tuxedo is required. It comes in cream, sand, white and mouse grey, and can be personalised in a number of ways.
Other styles available in the Bivolino range include ties and boxer shorts (the boxer shorts can be customised!), and also custom made shirts and pyjamas for boys and girls.
Bivolino provides a number of innovative features on their website to assist the customer in selecting their shirt. One of these is the online demo, which is a type of virtual book. In it, you can turn your pages on screen as in a traditional book, by grabbing the lower corners of the pages by clicking on them, and then 'dragging' the pages to flip them. You can leave this demo open in its popup while you configure your shirt on the browser.
The Bivolino.com product configurator is supplied by Shirtsdotnet. The Shirtsdotnet company will be looked at in more detail in a future article, but here we can describe an outline of how the software is used. For each type of shirt, (Formal Classic, Casual Patchwork, etc.) there is an 'Inspiration Shirt’ - an example of how the finished product might look - which the customer can change when deciding about the type of collar, the cut, the fastening, the cuffs, the finishing of the back, the pockets, monogram (optional), and finally the fabric. Having finalised the design stage, the customer then gives their collar size, weight, age and height. Bivolino say that the knowledge of these personal data items guarantees a perfect fit. The comapny uses a sizing system called Linosoft(TM), which enables the shirt to be cut according to the customer's own body sizes.
The price of a Bivolino shirt varies between €75 and €102.50. For certain measurements above regular sizes, supplementary charges apply, generally ranging from €8 to €20. If the customer is ordering more than one shirt, discounts can be gained, from 4.5% for two shirts to 10% for 10 shirts. Delivery times for custom-made items range from 15-21 days within Europe, to 28 days for other parts of the world.
It is generally accepted that many shirts are bought as gifts for Christmas, birthdays and so on. How does someone give a gift of a customised shirt? After all, you can't really use a tape to measure your nearest and dearest without them knowing. Bivolino has come up with a clever solution in this case - the person giving the shirt enters the payment details and also the contact details for the recipient, who then receives an email. The email from Bivolino informs them that a shirt has been bought for them and asks them to enter the necessary details to enable the shirt to be made to their measurements. So there is no need to ask "What size collar do you take?", in the weeks before Christmas!
A problem which sometimes occurs with online clothes retailing is that the customer cannot touch the material, a judge for themselves the quality of the product. Bivolino has a solution - they will send to the customer, free of charge, a set of fabric swatches for each range of shirt. The swatches can be ordered directly through the website.
Bivolino has taken steps to maintain a continuous communication with its customers, an important aspect of any mass customisation programme. A customer can create a personal account through Bivolino.com. One of the benefits of this is that the customer's measurements are stored after the first purchase, so that for future purchases, an accelerated three-click process can be used. Also, account holders receive advance notification by newsletter of new offers and promotions, and they can view their previous purchase history.
Other services available from Bivolino include promotional shirts with inscriptions for corporate use. The company can produce shirts with logos and personal monogram embroideries for men, women and children.
According to Bivolino, the countries with the highest level of customised purchases are Holland, Switzerland & Germany. This is attributed to the high level of broadband internet penetration in homes.
The company plans to increase its sales in the United States, where interest in customised products is growing again, as the U.S. economy improves.
Bivolino is a very strong example of a mass customising enterprise that uses its information technology to build up relationships with its customers, and maximise the ease with which a customer can answer the necessary product configuration questions. The company is also using its technology to widen the extent to which its products can satisfy user requirements. The 'Casual Patchwork' shirt presents customers with the option of personalising a shirt to a degree not previously seen. On many occasions, writers who look into the future get it wrong. However, those who predicted mass customisation, such as Alvin Toffler, Stanley Davis and B. Joseph Pine, can look at Bivolino and know that they got it right.
All pictures: Bivolino.com.